Examples of renewable and nonrenewable natural resources. Sustainable management of water and conservation. Soil and biological resources.
Let’s start with the most frequently asked things:
Definitions of natural resources
A resource fulfills human needs. Anything that is useful can be defined as resource. So, things that are not useful or cannot fulfill human needs are considered as waste. And at the same time whether a material is resource or waste that depends on time and technology also.
The same thing at a particular time may be considered as waste and at other time with the advancement of the technology the same thing may become resource. So, this is one of the more meaningful definition for resource. Resource is a source or supply from which a benefit is produced and that has some utility.
Two points of view to look at the resources
Resources sustain our life in this planet. There are two points of view to look at the resources.
From economic point of views, resource is human-centric. In economics, a resource is defined as a service or other asset used to produce goods and services that meet human needs and wants.
The word human is used that means it is human-centric but in biological point of view or ecological point of view the definition is not human-centric but nature-centric or biocentric or eco-centric.
In biology and ecology, a resource is defined as a substance that is required by a living organism for normal growth, maintenance and reproduction. So it targets the word organism as a whole so whole organism is addressed from biological definition of resource and in economic definition of resource word human is stressed.
So if we become more human-centric there will be more exploitation on these natural resources and rapid depletion of the resources is expected. So natural resource includes some valued characteristics.
Like natural resources have some commercial value and also industrial values it has got the aesthetic values other than the commercial and industrial values.
It has scientific interest and it has also some cultural values. And resources in a broad sense may include air mineral deposits. It may includes the fossil fuels, plants, crops and vegetation, soil, water and wildlife including flora and fauna that is plant life and animal life.
Classification of natural resources.
There are various methods of classifying natural resources. This includes the source of origin – on the basis of source the natural resources can be classified. Stage of development and also by their renewability. So we’ll concentrate on two aspects of classification of resources: first we will see the
Renewable and non-renewable resources.
So these are two major classification of resources:
- renewable resources that replaces from time to time and they have a life cycle and a continuous harvest is possible. So after a particular time the renewable resources get regenerated after the cycle is complete. And so in that pace, we can exploit the resource and that will not affect on the total capital of the renewable resources.
- Another is non-renewable type of resources. Resources which are not regenerated because they do not have any life cycle and are not recycled. So both life cycle is absent and the recycle component is not there. So as a result, if we go on using the non-renewable resources one day it will deplete or the stock will be less.
Renewable resources include wildlife including plants and animal life, aquatic life, pastures and forest. And there are many opinions about whether water is a renewable type of resource or not.
So plant that means crops and forests etc. and animal like milk and meat product- production replaces from time to time because they have a life cycle and a continuous harvest is possible.
Some resources do not have life cycle but can be recycled. The resources like water are also classified as renewable but the over exploitation of the water may exceeds the life cycle capacity or renewable capacity. In that case, the same water will behave like non-renewable resources.
Non-renewable resources are mineral deposits formed very slowly over millions of years and once used cannot be regenerated. Mineral resources for example, fossil fuels such as petrol and coal and it was deposited after millions of years and those things cannot be regenerated for many million years.
The formation of soil takes thousands of years and is not renewable in the lifespan of many generations. It is therefore, considered as non-renewable resources.
Within our few generation we cannot expect the soil to be formed. If we destroy the quality of soil because of the over exploitation or intensive agriculture and other activities. So we cannot get the soil quality back.
There is another classification of resources that is
Exhaustible resource and inexhaustible resource.
- Exhaustible resources are say resources like coal, petrol etc. are classified as exhaustible because their deposits on this planet are finite. For example coal, petrol, mineral deposits. Their deposit is finite and if we go on using these, one day it will the stock will be finished and that is why these are classified as exhaustible resources.
- So another is inexhaustible resources like which are not changed by men’s activities and are abundantly available and expected to be available for millions of years like solar energy, wind energy, atomic energy, tidal energy – like this.
Renewable sources can also be classified as inexhaustible because they can be managed properly and renewed. For example we have discussed the two things water is renewable. But water is renewable and it is inexhaustible only when we manage properly and keep on using water for millions of years. But if the management is not proper then water will be no more inexhaustible because the fresh water or pure water will not be available for the population of the earth.
Conservation and sustainable resource management
Natural resources are the basis of human life. Sustainable use of natural resource is the key word when we target conservation and resource management. Renewable resources such as plants and animals become extinct if not managed properly. They are maintainable but purely exhaustible resources like fossil fuel and some other minerals are not maintainable.
The behavior of a resource depends on how we use it or how we manage it. For example, if water, plants animals, etc. are managed properly those resources will be available for many years to come. But over use or abuse of these resources will make them exhaustible and some of them will be extinct from the planet. Already many plants and animals have extinct.
We use natural resources to satisfy our needs and wants. Eating, drinking, growing food, making clothes, building, houses and transport – these are some areas in which we keep on using the natural resources. But natural resources are not infinitely available for human use. So it is very important to conserve and manage the natural resources so that our next generations – generations to come can enjoy the same natural resources like us. So sustainable use of natural resources are very important.
Management refers to sustainable utilization of major natural resources such as land, water, air, mineral, forest, fisheries and wild flora and fauna. So, the advantages of this are that if we manage the natural resources we can stop or decrease the rate of degradation or destruction of the environment as well as the natural resources.
Solve the water balance problem – as we have mentioned water may behave like renewable and non-renewable based on the use or management. We are doing for conservation of the water so if we do not conserve or manage water resource properly then it will become non-renewable due to the management and conservation.
The quality or condition of the resources will improve due to management and that will ensure sustainable use of natural resources. So a sustainable management of natural resource is needed for these three factors: avoid degradation, solve problems on water resources like water and improve the conditions.
Conservation is like preservation. Conservation is related to the protection of nature or natural resources. If the resources are not used wisely, it would create an imbalance in the environment. Sustainable use of natural resources ensure conservation. In other words, conservation is the skillful management and preservation of resources.
For future generations we have to adopt the conservation or management on the natural resources.
In short, the conservation can be defined like this, conservation ensures a continuous yield of renewable materials and protection of non-renewable resources from wastage and rapid depletion. So to target the wastage and rapid depletion of the natural resources, the conservation measures are required.
It’s a wise principle of co-existence between man and nature. To ensure continued use of nature or natural resources, men should coexist with nature so that both can be benefited for longer period of time.
The approaches are: for renewable resources the extraction or harvesting the annual yield to ensure sustainable use and for non-renewable resources proper management through protection and stop wastage or overuse of resources.
So the conservation and management of natural resources are extremely essential for sustainable use of resources for sustainable development. This is a very common term nowadays – Sustainable Development. We and also say long-term development very long-term development or sustainable use of natural resources.
„Sustainable development is the development to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising with the ability to meet the needs of the future generations“.
Can I ask you for a moment to consider this fantastic planet we live on? It IS remarkable. There is no other planet like ours; the planet we call Earth. Nothing like it in our solar system and there is no other planet like this one as far as we know in the whole Milky Way Galaxy! Yes Earth is unique and diverse and everything we need to live and enjoy our lives is right here on planet Earth.
- When we talk about the things that are available in nature;
- things that are found in and on and around the earth;
- things that are used to sustain our lives, or
- things that are used to make other things that we may enjoy our lives
all these things that the earth provides are called natural resources.
Think for a moment and answer this question what is the one thing you could not do without? Did you say smartphone! DUDE really?! Let me rephrase the question. What is the one thing you can not LIVE without?…and please don’t say your smartphone. Who said cheeseburgers? Now you’re getting closer!
The food you eat comes from Natural Resources! Maybe you said you can’t live without Water or Air… BINGO! People need clean water and clean air to live, and these are Natural Resources. Here is a short list of Natural Resources and you may think of many more!
- Natural Gas
- Timber and
- Forests and
I think we could also include things that provide other forms of energy like wind and the
Sun as a Natural resource. And while we’re at it let’s also include animals that are used for food and clothing as a natural resource. Of course, I’m referring to cattle and poultry and pigs and fish and other game animals.
Natural Resources are categorized in two basic groups. Renewable and Non-Renewable.
Oxygen Fresh Water trees and plants are examples of renewable resources these are things that the earth continues to provide, as well as solar energy from the sun and power from the wind. And if animals continue to have babies they can be lumped in with the renewables.
Non-renewable resources however are like things that once you use it, it’s gone forever. Resources used to provide energy like oil and natural gas and coal are non-renewable. These resources were in the earth for millions of years and as we use them and burn them up in our cars and machines and homes… they are gone forever.
Also, in this group would be resources that are mined; like gold, silver and other ores like iron and metals that cannot be replaced.
People began making use of these natural resources when they began making bricks of earth and clay and began diverting rivers and streams to build reservoirs and irrigate crops. They planted seeds to grow food and raised and controlled herds of cattle; and mined gold and gemstones to adorn themselves with jewelry. They cut down trees and made log homes.
Early people used different resources to trade for what they needed. Natural Resources were and are like money. As you probably have figured out, it is by using these resources that the economies of the countries of the world grow and develop.
Jobs are created as Natural Resources are used. For example:
- ores are mined to make steel to make cars timber is harvested to make lumber to build homes.
Plastics and glass get their start from the resources the earth provides.
- Clothing and textiles; Medicines and machines everything gets a start from basic materials provided from what? You guessed it! Natural Resources!
- Where does milk come from? Did you say… “the Store”? Where does it really come from? Food… comes from something that begins in the earth, our Natural Resource. Right now, the people of earth rely heavily on a major Natural Resource.
- OIL! Oil has been in the earth for hundreds of millions of years and people discovered that it was a fuel for energy; it was great to burn it to make us warm in the winter and use it to power machines including automobiles and airplanes and ships. We have been pumping it 24 hours a day 7 days a week all over the world.
But we can’t do that forever, can we? Remember that oil is a non-renewable resource and when it’s gone it is gone for all time. Don’t you think we should find another source of RENEWABLE energy? Energy that also is cleaner when used? YOU just may be the one to figure out a better way to use our Natural Resources. Maybe a better way to use our renewable resources like water, or the wind, or the sun.
Natural resources are valuable if you consider the value of timber, oil, natural gas and minerals, here is a list of the countries with the greatest total value in natural resources.
- In the top spot… Russia.
- Number 2 the USA!
- Followed by Saudi Arabia
- Iraq and
to round out the top ten.
In the future, managing and protecting our Natural Resources will take skill. It will take ingenuity, technology and knowledge and awareness and careful conservation. Remember that much of our resources are non-renewable once they’re gone they are gone for good. We will always need clean water; can you imagine a world without clean water? Try drinking a glass of dirty water, NO THANK YOU!
As our need for energy increases… we will need people to develop improved and efficient sources of renewable power like power from the sun and wind and water. The use of non-renewables is still important, but it won’t last forever.
Conservation of our resources is like money in a savings account you don’t want to spend all your money, so you have nothing right? Much of our natural resources have many uses; for example:
- we build dams to hold back rivers and create reservoirs
- reservoirs then provide water for large populations to drink, to irrigate crops, and to provide hydroelectricity and…provide areas for recreation!
This is a wise use of a natural resource! The oceans are huge! But they are not fresh water and not for drinking. We use trees to provide timber to build homes and make toothpicks but we must continue to plant new seedlings to have trees in the future.
We’ve got to be smart and learn to use things over and over and reduce using things where we can.
Can you help?
What can you do to help preserve our Natural Resources?
- And let me ask you again what on this earth can you NOT do without?
- Can you help to keep it around a little longer?
- Can you help protect and conserve our valued Natural Resources?
We THINK YOU CAN!